All artist's of any genre have to start somewhere. We have all seen them, heard them, liked them, loved them with our support or simply thought; "What the heck was that all about?" It is important to support local talent that you believe in; fans are what help get them on the path to their dreams.
We hear of success stories but do we ever truly realize how tough it is and how hard their determination pushes them? I realized it after meeting Georgia native, Ben Dukes. At first you may think; "Oh he is just another guy talking a big game," but soon find out how wrong you were. Ben currently lives in Los Angeles and we all know how tough that is for country music. Even though great strides have been made, it just never seems to hold the same balance as it would if it were Nashville, or Texas. I think this only adds to Ben's determination.
Singer/songwriter Dukes does not shy away from his beliefs that there is still room for a true traditional country sound that is missing today, and I tend to agree with him. He holds strong respect for the influences of Garth Brooks, Hank Williams, Waylon, Merle and Johnny Cash. This quote taken from an indepth interview with Blog site No Depression: The Roots Music Authority will sum up who Ben Dukes is: http://www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/ben-dukes-from-garth-brooks-to-the-late-late-show-with-craig
"I came upon chasing music for a living in a bit of an interesting way. When my father died, I found myself lost, confused and angry. I didn't know how to feel, and had nowhere to direct my emotions. The last gift he had given me was the money to go on a retreat with my church. The retreat focused on prayer, and while I was there, I couldn't find a way to focus at all. We were told to go out and pray for an hour, and instead of that, I sat on a stump and penned the song, "I Can't Pray." I couple of years later, I was with a producer friend of mine, and I sang him the song. He told me I needed to cut it, and that he thought I might have a future in songwriting. We cut the song. It was played over 20,000 times online, and a video for it was played on GAC as a "fan favorite" in their Next GAC Star competition. After that, I simply kept writing and started playing everywhere I could. I played open mics, solo acoustic shows, fronted various cover bands, etc. With every performance, I came to realize more and more that there really is nothing else in the world for me to do than entertain."
After releasing a five cut EP in 2012, which brought to light to the very likeable kickin song, "Down In Flames", Dukes was given the chance to go to Nashville to record his first country music album with veteran producer Chip Hardy. "“Chip brings over 20 years of Country Music experience to the table, and his ear for lyrics is unparalleled,” said Dukes. “As owner and operator of The515 studio, Chip takes an active role in building the song from the ground up, working with me every step of the way from initial concept and acoustic demo all the way to the final mix and master.” Hence the full length "Walkin Through Hell" CD became a reality with all the tracks written by Ben himself, which was released on March 30th.
Dukes got his first taste of the annual SXSW Festival in Austin, TX this year to support the release of the new CD, and there he wowed the crowds with his creative, rockin pure country sound. His first big national exposure came about on his first appearance in June of 2012 when he performed "Down In Flames" on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson which lead to a second appearance this year to premier his new song "Old Fixer Upper" from the "Walkin Through Hell" CD.
As is for any artist working his way towards his goals and dreams, Dukes plays locally at every chance he gets, be it the near by bar, honky tonk, or charity event. After his gig with SXSW he scheduled a tour which took him to more shows in TX, moving along to Nashville and Georgia. August 26th Ben and his Band, will be returning to the Silver Dollar Saloon in Nashville to participate in the American Star Competiton.
"It doesn’t matter how well you promote, how many people you get to put eyes and ears on your act, if you fall short in the performance, you’re not going to be memorable. You have to bring something to table."
I have grown to admire this young man. It is not an easy task to undertake when you want to get back the sound of country music that seems to be lost right now. Ben's sound is similiar to some old school artist's yet unique with his own twist of down home pride in telling a story one song at a time. After seeing his lively rockin shows it only solidifies to me that this will be another story of a local artist who finally get's to that level they have worked so hard to achieve. And I can and will say, "I knew them when."
To find our more about Ben Dukes and his music please check out this link: